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The Hawkins\Brown Emission Reduction Tool: providing a data visualisation tool to enable architects to make informed decisions on their projects’ carbon emissions

Louisa Bowles, Hawkins\Brown; Jake Attwood-Harris; Raheela Khan-Fitzgerald; Ben Robinson

Awards RIBA President's Awards for Research 2020
Category Climate Change

Diagram showing an example of early stage comparative façade options

The speed and severity of climate change is now globally accepted, signalled by the Paris Agreement in 2015. In light of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) stating that the built environment accounts for 40% of total carbon emissions, the RIBA has set ambitious 2030 targets for buildings in the UK to reach Net Zero. Net Zero currently only refers to the operational energy over a building’s lifetime. However, Whole Life Carbon and embodied carbon has historically suffered from a lack of understanding and measurement, largely due to the specialist nature of the field. This paper summarises the multi-phase development of a Revit and web-based carbon data visualisation tool, which started in 2012 with development ongoing. The tool helps architects understand the carbon emissions associated with their designs by adopting clear, graphic representations of their impact. It automates embodied carbon measurements from the BIM model and shows the balance of this against operational energy. It distinguishes itself from the other tools available on the market by being designed for architects, being visual and quick to use. The aim has been to enable significant carbon savings at the earliest design stages, when the most impact can be made. The v1 tool which focuses on embodied carbon visualisation has been disseminated widely: available free of charge, it has been downloaded 572 times by 237 architecture and design professionals as well as 48 students from 23 different universities. The outcome of this body of research has also made a significant contribution to the LETI Embodied Carbon Primer and the Climate Emergency Design Guide, which has been download 4,657 and 12,376 times respectively. This, in turn, impacted the Greater London Authority’s Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments guidance as part of the emerging London Plan, which is currently out for consultation.

Read more on the Hawkins\Brown emission reduction tool in the RIBA Journal: 'Carbon cutting starts early'.

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